Review: Leverage

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an important book for me to read, and the only one of its genre I tried. I just hated it.

Good things: the characters themselves (aside from the bullies) felt extremely real, the funny bit with the gymnastics team at the lake, messy redemption, something of a happy ending, in the scenario given the book was completely believable.

Bad things: in the scenario given the book was completely believable. Horrible content that made me very surprised it was on the teen shelf at the library. Guess if the author is right and bullying is this bad IRL, it was a book that maybe needed to be there.

Diagnosis: 24 for teen boys, with all attendant warnings for parental preview and supervision and availability to talk it over when they’re done. Something I needed to read as a potential teacher: what to look for, how to help, what not to do in a suspected hardcore bullying situation. Something to remember on the hard days.

View all my reviews

Justice Hall – Laurie R. King

Hullo again! It’s been a while since I last posted, and I’ve been hard at work on my 101 books goal (nearly halfway done in under 3 months-perhaps it should have been 1001 books instead…). Here’s my latest Goodreads review:

I am of necessity an advocate for total immersion.

In books, that is.

This one was hard to read. I figured out a big surprise a little too early, for one thing-maybe I’d read too much of the description to be in doubt of the happy ending. For another, SPOILERS that “happy ending” involved a murder. Terry Pratchett’s version of the rough music, dressed up as justice. It was justice, stripped of mercy-it even echoed the major theme of Justice Hall and its ceiling’s roots in Amos. Tied up all the loose ends quite neatly by giving a murderer the death he’d given his victim and preventing him from killing again. That didn’t really matter. I just can’t see that as a good thing, a thing the men who did it should have done. For a third difficulty, how do you experience justice subverted to produce murder and not hate the situation that forced it on you? I came very near hating this book, because it gave me a taste of what trench warfare and execution of innocents might have felt like. Reading the boy’s diary, knowing what would be at the end? That was not a good half hour. END SPOILERS

I didn’t like the author’s lesbian/feminist preaching back when she introduced it early in the series, I didn’t like it here, and I really didn’t like the squishy theology. I didn’t like being forced while in a safe place to inhabit all the emotions of a horrible, helpless one.

Despite all this, I read to the end and gave it 4 stars for good story-telling.

Score: one for immersion.

41. Read 101 books.

Those poor librarians must groan when they see me come in. I can’t seem to leave in under half an hour-it’s physically impossible. And I ask all the hard questions, like “what would you recommend as fiction getaway for a toothache-suffering 12-year-old boy? My little brother got braces today…” They’re always far too nice, so I enjoy abusing their natural friendliness.

Anyway, this is already my favourite goal. ‘Twill be complete when I’ve listed each book plus the date finished in this post. Without further ado and with a bit of embarrassment at my own preferred reading level, here goes.

Progress: Done!!!!! and I should probably have aimed closer to 1001…

  1. The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner 1-1-13
  2. Wren to the Rescue, Sherwood Smith 1-3-13
  3. Wren’s Quest, Sherwood Smith 1-3-13
  4. The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Marie Pope 1-22-13
  5. The Sherwood Ring, Elizabeth Marie Pope 1-23-13
  6. The Princess and the Hound, Mette Ivie Harrison 1-24-13
  7. Wren’s War, Sherwood Smith 1-28-2013
  8. Wren Journeymage, Sherwood Smith 1-29-2013
  9. Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food, Eric Schlosser 2-1-2013
  10. Heir Apparent, Vivian Vande Velde 2-3-2013
  11. Shadowfell, Juliet Marillier 2-9-2013
  12. The Amaranth Enchantment, Julie Berry 2-9-2013
  13. Cousin Kate, Georgette Heyer 2-10-2013
  14. Academy 7, Anne Osterlund 2-15-2013
  15. Perfect Cover, Jennifer Lynn Barnes 2-16-2013
  16. The Castle in the Attic, Elizabeth Winthrop 2-16-2013
  17. The Strange Case of Finley Jane, Kady Cross 2-17-2013
  18. The Girl in the Steel Corset, Kady Cross 2-17-2013
  19. Elemental, Brigid Kemmerer 2-17-2013
  20. Breathless, Sophie Jordan 2-17-2013
  21. A Long, Long Sleep, Anna Sheehan 2-18-2013
  22. The Battle For the Castle, Elizabeth Winthrop 2-23-2013
  23. Lords and Ladies, Terry Pratchett 2-23-2013
  24. The Lucky One, Nicholas Sparks 2-25-2013
  25. Update March 2013: I’ve started using Goodreads-reviews will eventually be up there for some of these. Check the sidebar on my blog if you’re interested.
  26. Archer’s Goon, Diana Wynne Jones 3-2-2013
  27. Storm, Brigid Kemmerer 3-2-2013
  28. Never Trust a Dead Man, Vivian Vande Velde 3-2-2013
  29. User Unfriendly, Vivian Vande Velde 3-3-2013
  30. Spark, Brigid Kemmerer 3-3-2013
  31. Ring in a Teacup, Betty Neels 3-3-2013
  32. Deadly Pink, Vivian Vande Velde 3-4-2013
  33. Beauty and the Werewolf, Mercedes Lackey 3-6-2013
  34. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R. King 3-11-2013
  35. A Monstrous Regiment of Women, Laurie R. King 3-14-2013
  36. A Letter of Mary, Laurie R. King 3-16-2013
  37. The Moor, Laurie R. King 3-16-2013
  38. This Must Be Love, Tui T. Sutherland 3-22-2013
  39. O Jerusalem, Laurie R. King 3-24-2013
  40. Justice Hall, Laurie R. King 3-29-2013
  41. There’s a Dead Person Following My Sister Around, Vivian Vande Velde 4-8-2013
  42. Dragon’s Bait, Vivian Vande Velde 4-8-2013
  43. Being Dead, Vivian Vande Velde 4-8-2013
  44. Companions of the Night, Vivian Vande Velde 4-8-2013
  45. A Well-Timed Enchantment, Vivian Vande Velde 4-8-2013
  46. The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, Vivian Vande Velde 4-8-2013
  47. Magic Can Be Murder, Vivian Vande Velde 4-8-2013
  48. The Game, Laurie R. King 4-8-2013
  49. Curses, Inc. and Other Stories, Vivian Vande Velde 4-8-2013
  50. A Coming Evil, Vivian Vande Velde 4-9-2013
  51. The Birthday Ball, Lois Lowry 4-9-2013
  52. Bewitching: The Kendra Chronicles, Alex Flinn 4-9-2013
  53. Someday Angeline, Louis Sachar 4-10-2013
  54. Midnight in Austenland, Shannon Hale 4-13-2013
  55. Princess Academy: Palace of Stone, Shannon Hale 4-14-2013
  56. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett 4-21-2013
  57. Locked Rooms, Laurie R. King 4-24-2013
  58. Spellcaster, Claudia Gray 4-25-2013
  59. When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead 4-25-2013
  60. The Emerald Casket, Richard Newsome 4-26-2013
  61. The Billionaire’s Curse, Richard Newsome 4-26-2013
  62. Faith, Lori Copeland 4-27-2013
  63. The Cater Street Hangman, Anne Perry 4-30-2013
  64. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith 4-30-2013
  65. Fox and Phoenix, Beth Bernobich 5-1-2013
  66. Brightly Woven, Alexandra Bracken 5-1-2013
  67. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett 5-2-2013
  68. The Mask of Destiny, Richard Newsome 5-5-2013
  69. Aurelia, Anne Osterlund 5-9-2013
  70. The Language of Bees, Laurie R. King 5-10-2013
  71. Dodger, Terry Pratchett 5-10-2013
  72. The God of the Hive, Laurie R. King 5-13-2013
  73. Exile, Anne Osterlund 5-19-2013
  74. And Only to Deceive, Tasha Alexander 5-22-2013
  75. Pirate King, Laurie R. King 5-25-2013
  76. Pyramids, Terry Pratchett 5-30-2013
  77. The Far West, Patricia C. Wrede 5-31-2013
  78. Only You Can Save Mankind, Terry Pratchett 6-?-2013
  79. Medicus, Ruth Downie 6-4-2013
  80. Brooklyn Rose, Ann Rinaldi 6-4-2013
  81. The Thirteenth Princess, Diane Zahler 6-9-2013
  82. Enchanted, Alethea Kontis 6-12-2013
  83. Aliens On Vacation, Clete Barrett Smith 6-13-2013
  84. Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, Barbara Demick 6-16-2013
  85. Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt 6-20-2013
  86. A Beautiful Friendship, David Weber 6-20-2013
  87. Garment of Shadows, Laurie R. King 6-21-2013
  88. Snow White and the Seven Samurai, Tom Holt 6-21-2013
  89. The Fox Inheritance, Mary E. Pearson 6-22-2013
  90. Dreamland, Sarah Dessen 6-29-2013
  91. Things I Know About Love, Kate le Vann 7-2-2013
  92. The Ruins of Gorlan, John Flanagan 7-4-2013
  93. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett 7-7-2013
  94. Johnny and the Dead, Terry Pratchett 7-9-2013
  95. The Burning Bridge, John Flanagan 7-10-2013
  96. The Icebound Land, John Flanagan 7-13-2013
  97. The Siege of Macindaw, John Flanagan 7-19-2013
  98. The Sorcerer of the North, John Flanagan 7-19-2013
  99. The Battle for Skandia, John Flanagan 7-19-2013
  100. Erak’s Ransom, John Flanagan 7-20-2013
  101. The Kings of Clonmel, John Flanagan 7-21-2013

cradle to cradle

My definition of valuable productive activity is broad, as you will come to find. Today afforded some generally in tune noise on the piano (and sore fingers-haven’t played in years!), a clean room, a clean bathroom, and some clean, folded clothes. Nice little breaks from the all-consuming need to read books in a single day or never finish.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things is a lovely, heavy book printed on generally recyclable material which calls for everything we as humans produce to keep in mind the economic, social, and ecological benefits of reuse from the get-go. Authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart start out stating (and re-stating, recapitulating, paraphrasing, and reprising) the problem: Western culture is consumption-based. Which means that everything we buy is made with a single use in mind. An aluminum soda can is made for soda and advertising, not for soda and then recycling. Cars are welded together so inextricably that they can’t be cannibalized at ‘death’ for strong steel to be used in other cars. We use deadly chemicals in everything.

After the problem come various solutions by earlier environmentalist movements: stop having kids (to kill consumer culture), regulate machines to death, allow industries to keep using scarce virgin resources but force them to use these at a slower rate and send the pollution ‘somewhere else’, protect whatever is left of the pristine at all costs-all growing from the conclusion that human industrial growth is morally wrong… What a depressing picture.

Finally, they offer the solution: get up and take the best of both worlds. Instead of recycling, ‘upcycle’. Make your processes and products so ecologically sound that they add to the environment instead of detracting from it ‘at all phases of their lifecycle’ (the authors actually did this in a Swiss textile mill). For the rest of the book, McDonough and Braungart share some ideas of how to apply this principle to different situations.

Pleasant writing style, innovative problem-solving, good book. Read it. Or just go read a bit off McDonough’s website, which’ll give you the book condensed and updated.

Caveat: If you are also a Christian and Creationist, you may find the frequent evolutionary theory references a bit heavy-or, as I did, a bit amusing. Particularly when coupled with frequent lessons from biology (go to the ant, anyone?). God’s world works better than anything humans can come up with, and only by imitating ‘natural processes’ can we insure our own continued survival? Well, who’d’a thunk???

On a lighter (or is it darker?) note, this book made me wonder if Cybermen read Malthus…